REVIEWER: Jeff Swanstrom, operations manager for Jeske Company.
BACKGROUND: Jeske Company is a wholesale hardware distributor servicing hardware retailers, lumberyards and millwork shops from two regional warehouses in the Central United States.
PLATFORMS: We use IBM System i 520.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We selected VAI as our vendor of choice in 2002. Coming from an old 1980s program that had been significantly modified to meet our needs and was no longer practical, the business was moving beyond the ability of the system and wanted to partner with a third-party that could handle maintenance issues and drive technological changes. Because we only had one person who worked on the systems modifications, it was also important that we find a reputable company that offered 24-hour customer service and support. VAIs S2K Enterprise for WMS was the perfect solution for Jeske based on its flexibility to handle everything from accounts receivable to inventory management, as well as offering the whole suite package a la carte. This was significant because Jeske was able to select specific modules to suit our needs.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The WMS system has helped Jeske to automate its warehouses fully. Now, our employees are using barcodes and radio frequency devices to help maintain better inventory control and locate products throughout the warehouse. Before, employees had to manually pick each order by sight. With no verification system in place, mistakes were frequently made, causing delays in shipping and inaccurate inventory counts. By utilizing VAIs WMS, orders are consistently accurate and most of the human error has been eliminated. Even returns that were once caused from product shipping errors have been greatly reduced helping to significantly improve our companys customer service level. The addition of VAIs S2K software suite has had a positive effect on our entire business operation. From customer service to warehousing and salespeople - everyone is experiencing noticeable changes in the efficiency of their workflow.
STRENGTHS: The main strength is inventory accuracy. You cannot put a price tag on knowing what, when and where product is in your warehouse facility. Everyone at Jeske is so excited to be working with the S2K product because it really lives up to its name. It gives our employees a lot more confidence in dealing with customers because we are able to verify our inventory process and track items throughout the entire operation so we can always provide up-to-date, real-time information. Another nice feature is being able to count inventory easily with the cycle count and physical inventory applications. Before, we would have to shut down our entire operation for three days to complete inventory counting. Now, with VAIs software, we complete the task with RF devices and no longer have to shut down our warehouses. This feature alone helps Jeske save a great deal of time and money. Also, with the S2K software, invoice billing occurs easily and efficiently. In the past, sometimes orders slipped through the cracks and never got billed. The new system tracks orders from point A to Z. If something is hung up in the middle, employees can see the issue and address it appropriately.
WEAKNESSES: The installation process can be complicated. For starters, you need an organized warehouse prior to the softwares implementation, which made things difficult for us. It was a time- consuming process, and we had to outsource it to a third party to help take some of the burden off our staff. Since the process runs off bar codes, it is absolutely necessary that each item receive a bar code before the implementation process can move forward. Also, the implementation process includes a lot of setups that have to be done, and some of the Jeske staff had trouble grasping the overall concepts of the bin/item relationship.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We found VAI WMS to be a natural choice since we were already running the firms ERP system and were happy with how the software was performing in our warehouse. We felt our staff would be comfortable using the S2K WMS module. We chose VAI initially based on a recommendation received from one of our local partners who had a positive experience with VAI.
DELIVERABLES: From an order, S2K WMS creates sight-organized pick tickets. When packaged, the software helps us create a packing list. We do this task on regular paper and also use Mark Magic, which is integrated with S2K. From this standpoint, our company has saved a lot of money because we dont need special pre-printed forms for pick tickets or packing lists. S2K also provides strong bin analysis and inventory tracking functions. For example, if I want to know what is in a specific bin, I can simply look in the computer system. With VAIs comprehensive software, I can see the entire tracking history. I can see which items were scanned, which were received, items put away in the bin, and know exactly where to go and the next steps to take. This feature greatly reduced training time. What used to take almost a month of learning where the items are in the warehouse, now takes a fraction of the time for employees to learn. Now, we can even send a rookie out to find an item right away.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We did things a little differently than most VAI customers. VAI has preapproved vendors or third-party affiliates who do modifications. So, we used them as the trainer to help implement S2K, and did not use VAIs project manager. VAI has a very good help desk, and we have enjoyed getting to know their friendly and helpful staff over the years. There will always be issues, so its nice to have a reliable point of contact. VAI is good about answering questions and working out program bugs. The company also has good response time, and their staff is very knowledgeable - if they dont know an answer to your question, they will find out. Also, VAI is continually upgrading its software and is a well-respected, stable company.
DOCUMENTATION: VAIs documentation manual shows readers the menu options and what they do, but a lot of that information is intuitive. In those cases, I sometimes get the answers that I need. Primarily, the VAI 24x7 help desk is a great resource to fix any issues that we may have. We could not have run the product easily if we had to rely on the documentation provided.
S2K Enterprise for WMS
Vormittag Associates Inc.
120 Comac Street
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
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